In the scholarship business, there’s no name more prestigious than Fulbright, and this year, 65 students from Israel and the US who will study in each others’ countries are among the 8,000 worldwide by the Fulbright Program to receive the awards.
The scholarships were presented last month by US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who said that the “personal relationships between people, as the Fulbright Program fosters, are an essential element in deepening ties between the United States and Israel.”
The scholarships were given out in a special ceremony at Shapiro’s home on May 28 to Israeli students who will participate in programs in the US and American students who will come to Israel for educational programs.
The Fulbright Program awards scholarships to top students, from undergraduate to post-doctoral, as well as to teachers, professionals, scientists and artists. The program was established in 1946 by United States Senator J. William Fulbright. Under the Fulbright Program, competitively selected US citizens may become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents in other countries, while non-Americans chosen for the program are invited to do the same in the United States.
The program provides full scholarships, fellowships, and grants (depending on the institution or context the selected candidate will be working in). Currently operating in 155 countries, nearly 350,000 have participated in the program since its inception. The program has had many notable graduates, including 53 Nobel Prize winners, 20 foreign ministers, 18 heads of state or government, and one secretary general of the United Nations (Boutros Boutros-Ghali).
Among the Israeli graduates of the program are Professor Aharon Barak, former president of the Supreme Court; Technion Professor Aaron Ciechanover, who was a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2004; Professor Gabriela Shalev, a former ambassador of Israel to the UN; and writers A.B. Yehoshua and Etgar Keret.
The scholarships in Israel are administered by the US-Israel Education Foundation, established in 1956 by the governments of the United States and Israel to administer the Fulbright Program in Israel. The scholarships are funded equally by both governments. USIEF’s policies and program of activities are set by USIEF’s Board of Directors. Ambassador Shapiro is the honorary chairman of the board, while Dan Vilenski, former chairman of the board of Applied Materials Israel, serves as the board’s chairman.
“The Fulbright program is an important and effective to promote understanding between the United States and Israel,” said Vilenski. The scientists participating in the program, he said, “act as ambassadors for their countries, increasing understanding and improving relations between both countries at all levels.”